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Monday, April 30, 2012

Price of beauty

I love this! I've been saying this for years - better to have **experiences**!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend movies

It was Alana's Choice all weekend, because Caleb was away on a boy scout camping trip.

Hop - we watched this On Demand; it was kind of odd, not quite what I was expecting, but charming in it's way, with a strong theme of father-son reconciliation, some cute humor (Hank Azaria is great), and a nice melding of animation and live action.

Side note on casting - James Marsden is at least 10 years older than the character he plays - was he the only actor available? Elizabeth Perkins, who plays his mother, is only 13 years older than he is.  Head scratcher. Though I supposed kids, the target audience for this film, aren't going to notice.

Chimpanzee - Quite an interesting film; I found myself being amazed the whole time by the footage they managed to capture - there's a nice little Making Of featurette during the ending credits.  Side note - I could have lived without the scene where the chimps catch and eat a monkey - who knew?


Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Look - Renesmee

This is a wonderful shot of protective parents, I love it, but I'm a bit disappointed, only because it was teased as a first look at "baby" Renesmee, and she's certainly not a baby in this photo.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekend movies

Enjoyed a couple of movies this weekend:

War Horse - watched On Demand with the family on Friday night; much more interesting and moving than I expected and really great family entertainment.

The Lucky One - I was sort of dragged to this with my friend Dawn, but I enjoyed this much more than I expected - Zac Efron was very affecting as a Marine Corp soldier recovering from his third tour in Iraq, and the movie was beautifully filmed, making excellent use of locations in Louisiana.

Two notes on this movie~

I thought the movie was sexy as hell because they showed just enough to be yummy without being overly graphic. I'm not a fan of the recent trend of being overly raunchy ala Bridesmaids, or overly explicit ala Friends with Benefits.  I thought this film got it just right.

Although the ladies have been melting for Zac E for years, he never did it for me - I thought he was cute but not all that appealing; I guess I like my men moody and tortured, because in this role I found him quite compelling, and I never noticed before how hot he is. Hmm, sort of embarrassing to be lusting after someone young enough to be my son.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Thought for the day

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tattoo meaning

A few people have asked me about the meaning of my tattoo, and while I haven't gone into a long explanation about it, there actually is a long explanation behind it:

1. I wanted another tattoo
2. We were going to Israel, where tattoos are popular and providers are highly regulated
3. I wanted a tattoo of Hebrew letters
3a. Something short and sweet
3b. To proclaim my Jewishness
3c. To capture my feelings about being Jewish

I decided on sh'ma because it's short, very central to Judaism (the first word in the most important prayer in Judaism), it has a very important English/secular meaning - "listen," and the letters are pretty - shin, mem, ayin.

I decided on my right wrist because I wanted a very visible location and because of Psalm 137:5 (written after the Jews were expelled from Zion) ~ "If I forget Jerusalem, may my right hand forget it's cunning" (which is the King James translation; it's also translated as "may my right hand whither") - additionally referencing my commitment to both Judaism and Israel.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

TXRH conference - Discovery Cove

The conference was held in Orlando 4 years ago, but I didn't attend that year.  They went to Discovery Cover that year as well, but it's the first time for me.  Lovely place, with a swimming area, aviary, and dolphin experience pools (they have over 40 dolphins and about 80 trainers).

Larry and I "swam" with the dolphins during our honeymoon in the Bahamas, but this was a bit more extensive - we got a little ride with the dolphin (Dixie) as well as petting and feeding her:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TXRH conference - Day 3

In response to feedback, the conference schedule was a bit less hectic, and there was more free time than in previous years.  I really enjoyed the more relaxed pace. The weather was perfect in Florida and I had time to sit by the pool and read, which is the ultimate vacation activity, IMO.  I was very careful the first two days, but then I slipped a bit:

Here's a  (rather lousy) photo of Larry and I at the award dinner tonight.  He was a bit sad not to be nominated for MP of the year, especially because of the rock-n-roll theme this year, "Rock the House" - so perfect for him.

Monday, April 16, 2012

TXRH conference - Humanitarian Day

We spent the day at Restore Hope Orlando, a faith-based afterschool and summer program, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

We painted and improved landscaping, etc:

Truthfully, there was too many people and not enough to do (just like last year), but we all felt good about the improvements we made:

We were invited to put a handprint on the wall to mark our time there - I'm Syracuse orange, of course:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Texas Roadhouse conference, Orlando

I hit the pool as soon as I got there:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Taken 2"

I was utterly appalled to hear that the revenge thriller Taken is getting a sequel. I'll never get back the 90 minutes of my life that I wasted on the first one, and I wouldn't bother with the sequel, even on video, but hearing about the sequel got me thinking again about how utterly offensive I found the movie - the message is repulsive on several levels.  I never bothered to write a review, but I found this user review on imdb.com and it pretty much covers my feelings:

A crime against human intellect
26 September 2011
Author: Helena Vladi from Russia

I've never written a review before, but this movie angered me so much I felt it's my civic duty to protest.

The movie is so full of clich├ęs and unrealistic it's unbelievable it was made by adults. Apparently, we're supposed to derive some kind of psychological gratification from the Freudian symbols of innocence, fatherly love, superhuman strength and righteousness. It actually reminds me of the fantasies I had when I was 8.

Here's the plot: a rich, spoiled American virgin girl goes to Paris with a friend and gets abducted by Albanians and sold into sex slavery. Luckily, her daddy happens to be a ex-CIA agent and tracks them down effortlessly, kills and tortures them in a blood-curdling fashion and gets to his daughter just before she gets her throat slit by the evil (yet also stupid looking so you can still feel good about yourself), toad-like sheik. On his way, daddy makes a such a spectacle of killing and torturing people that it makes you wonder whether anyone would take so much trouble if no third party was watching. He doesn't even spare people who are innocent and are unlucky enough to get in his way. Like the wife of a French agent involved in the mess, whom Neeson shoots in the arm, because her husband refuses to give him information on St-Claire. (Meanwhile, their kids have been tucked into bed 5 minutes ago yet they don't seem to wake up. Yep, totally.)

All the circumstances are miraculously in Neeson's favor. His daughter is talking to him on the phone when she gets abducted. (otherwise, how would he know? Most victims of sex slavery are poor East European girls who don't have cell-phones, which would be too boring). Also, she's standing in the bathroom from where she can see her friend being abducted first, so daddy has enough time to instruct her how to hide and to shout out the details of their complexion while being dragged away (at which she miraculously succeeds, despite her panic and the struggle she puts up).

Also, multiple men can apparently easily get into a hotel room and abduct two girls, but Neeson has to use Spiderman skills to get inside. Well, thank God the bas relief of the wall was adjusted to his height exactly; otherwise, the movie would have ended there.

Another point that disturbed me very much is Neeson indifference to the scores of other girls who have been drugged and raped by Albanians. Apparently, the PRINCIPLE of sex slavery doesn't concern him, just the fact that it happens to HIS daughter.

In the end, Neeson returns with his daughter to America, with only a broken arm after fighting hundreds of heavily-armed men. Also, he has no trouble leaving France after killing each and every one of them. (France must be a Third World country). Everyone is happy and his ex-wife has to admit he's not such a loser after all. Every Freudian fascination has been satisfied trice over.

This movie does absolutely no justice to Eastern Europeans (all Albanians are shown as stupid scum and we're supposed to gloat seeing them being electrocuted), and above all, the REAL victims of modern sex slavery. I could write a lot more about this piece of garbage but I think I've made my point now. Thank you for your attention.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

No borders


Sunday, April 08, 2012

Weekend entertainment

I can't believe that I didn't watch a single movie over the weekend, but I did catch up on several TV series.  I watched several week's worth of Smash (on NBC), which I thought was getting boring until Derek and Tom had a marvelous argument about their friendship and the theater business which woke me right up and will keep me watching for awhile.  I watched several week's worth of Awake, which is insanely moving for a pretty formulaic cop show.  I watched several episodes of In Plain Sight (on USA), which were definitely an improvement on the season premiere, but the series still doesn't feel nearly as compelling as the first season. I watched some episodes of Happy Endings, which were mostly mildly amusing - that show is starting to feel more contrived than it was initially, though it's still entertaining.  I also watched part of the first episode of Magic City (on Starz), but I thought it was a snooze - I can't see myself making the effort for this one.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Author Skype

Wonderful event as part of the CNY Reads program.  My book club happened to pick The Book Thief right around the time that CNY Reads picked it. So I went to the CNY Reads kickoff event back in January, which was wonderful, and this was the final event - the author, Markus Zusak, talked with an audience of about 75 people at the Liverpool library.  He was perfect - funny, charming and so humble and gracious.  One of my book club members, Karthik, took this photo of me, asking a question.


Wednesday, April 04, 2012

A better perspective . . .


Sunday, April 01, 2012

Mad Men - Season 5

I didn't get to watch the 2 hour premiere live last week because I was attending the J Street conference (that's my story - I was actually watching The Hunger Games with my friend Suzanne).  So I watched it On Demand during the week.  I had read a few reviews, and they all said the show was terrific; one said there was "something for everyone" (meaning every fan).  So I was shocked at how inert and almost boring the premiere was, especially the first hour.  There was a few good scenes (Joan and Lane, toward the end of the second hour, was the best), and I loved the race story line, which was pretty bold.  But overall I was very disappointed.

I almost didn't watch this week's episode live, because I was completely unenthusiastic, but the kids were settled, and I didn't have any excuse not to.  I was utterly thrilled.  I found the episode delightful - Roger being Roger, Peggy having several terrific scenes, and even the much reviled Betty creating scads of empathy, so unexpectedly.  Now I'm properly excited for the season.  But I'm still scratching my head over "A Little Kiss."

Side note: Watched the final episode of Shameless on Showtime right after Mad Men; terrific show and I'll miss it until it returns in 2013.  Also watched the last episode of House of Lies, also on Showtime; if Don Cheadle isn't nominated for an Emmy, he will have been utterly robbed.  Despite being a bit raunchy for my taste, it's a great show, and he's just a pleasure to watch.  Over the weekend, I watched the season finale of Whitney (on NBC), a rare network comedy that I've really enjoyed (not sure why they're wrapping up their season so early, but at least they had a full 22 episodes, unlike cable series, which rarely have more than 13).

Shows to start watching now: The Killing (on AMC)- Larry has been watching the first season and says it's terrific; Touch (on Fox), which is getting rave reviews; Awake (on NBC)- I watched the first episode On Demand and really enjoyed it;  The Big C (on Showtime)- I watched the Season 1 premiere on the airplane during our trip and was impressed; maybe Magic City (only 8 episodes in the first season!), which is another period show and has a great cast (on Starz).  I also have to catch up on Smash (on NBC), which isn't amazing, but it's a nice adult show, with some excellent acting. I also have to catch up on In Plain Sight (on USA), which just started its fifth and final season in March; I thought the show was getting a little stale in Season 4, but it's still better than most of the stuff on TV.